Vandeventer Avenue is an interesting street, in that it has had many names over the years along different parts: Market Street Road, Manchester Road and then finally the current appellation. It was already platted out by the 1870s, and it is obvious that the road has been graded since some of the original houses along it have been built. Take the house above, which is a nice hipped roof duplex, which I think you can see in Compton and Dry below from 1876.
It’s pretty typical for the doors to be on the side, but if you look carefully, it’s pretty obvious that the level of the earth was much higher when these two houses were built. There were probably doors to the basement, but you can see a clear line in the masonry where the rubble wall switches to a rough hewn blocks of stone.
Vandeventer has become much more industrial, so the houses are now part of a business.
If you look next door to the south, you can see a wall surrounding the lot attached to the house.
At the corner, this building looks like it has received a new front, as the side elevation tells another story.
There is a whole exposed wall of foundation, lending me to believe that there was originally a higher grade on this side of the building as well.
Further to the north, these Italianate row houses were also obviously built when the street grade was much higher, their foundations now exposed and doors cut into the foundation walls. The original “front door” of the house is on the side, high up above the present street level and blocked off. You can also see this along Gravois Avenue, as well.
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I remember when Vandeventer was a main thoroughfare to get downtown for many before Highway 44 was completed,
Thanks! I’ve wondered about that house!
Can you clarify what you mean by the difference in grading? Does it mean that the house has been on that street but the street has been several feet farther away so there was more earth between the house and the street? Then when the street was widened, there was a need to remove the excess earth and create stairs or a walkout, etc? Thank you!
Sorry, I should have explained. Originally, the surface of the earth in St. Louis was undulating, the result of millennia of erosion and natural growth of trees and other plants. Street grading is when humans come in and impose linear surveying onto the natural contours of the earth. A surveyor would have chosen an average height of the land for Vandeventer, and then the hills and valleys would have either been cut away or filled in (often the latter with the former) to create a flat streetbed. Any houses or buildings built before street grading occurred, which was often decades after the first houses were built in a neighborhood, could find themselves with their “first” floors several or even a dozen feet above the new street grade.